Official Records Reports 1 - 3

The Official Records pertaining to the Battle of Mill Springs, KY, January 19, 1862

Including: Letters, Photographs and other significant documents

Compiled by COL Jerry McFarland, William Neikirk, David Gilbert and The Mill Springs Battlefield Association

 

Reports:

No. 1.-Brig. Gen. Albin Schoepf, U. S. Army.

No. 2.-Col. Ferdinand Van Derveer, Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry.

No. 3.-Brig. Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer, C. S. Army.

 

No. 1.- Reports of Brig. Gen. Albin Schoepf, U. S. Army.

CAMP GOGGIN, December 2, 1861

General GEORGE H. THOMAS, Commanding Eastern Division

 

GENERAL:  I arrived here yesterday, reconnoitered same day and today.  This morning the enemy opened fire from three pieces, one rifled, and infantry on Colonel Haskins' camp subsequent to my order for the removal of the camp some distance back.

 

The strength of the enemy is estimated, by the best accounts we can get, of the following numbers:  At Mill Springs, 2,000 infantry and 1,000 <ar7_8> cavalry; at Captain West's farm, distant from Mill Springs 2 miles, 1,000 infantry; at Steubenville, 2 miles distant from West's, 2,000 infantry; and at Monticello, 5 miles Steubenville, 3,000 infantry.  Mill Springs is distant from this point 12 miles, at which place they can cross the Cumberland with facility, and 2 miles below that point they can also cross.

 

Apprehensive of the probability of their crossing at Mill Springs, I detailed two companies of cavalry to that place.  I deem the position east of me safe, but west of me they may cross.

 

The river is high and not fordable, but by means of flats they can cross anywhere; the troops under my command are not sufficient to keep the river guarded as far as Mill Springs.  Should they cross in the vicinity of my camp I can defend my position. The Thirty-eighth Ohio will be with me today.  The Seventeenth will occupy a position on Fishing Creek, to defend against a flank movement should the enemy cross.

 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. SCHOEPF, Brigadier-General

 

P.S.-The enemy have moved their artillery and opened fire again.  I have hardly time to write.

 

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CAMP GOGGIN, December 3, 1861

General GEORGE H. THOMAS, Commanding Eastern Division

 

GENERAL:  The enemy, after keeping up a brisk fire until 1pm, retired and took up march towards Mill Springs.  I ordered Colonel Connell's Seventeenth Ohio Regiment from Somerset to that point; also three pieces of artillery and one company of cavalry.  Should the enemy make an attempt to cross, we could be able to keep them in check.

 

Twenty reliable Union men crossed the river yesterday evening, and gave me information that Zollicoffer commands in person, and is at Mill Springs, with eight regiments of infantry, three of cavalry, and eight pieces of artillery.

 

My troops can be provided with beef and fresh pork; therefore I would suggest that only small stores and bread should be sent.

 

Captain Prime arrived here today.  We will go to work as soon as the tools arrive.

 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. SCHOEPT, Brigadier-General

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HEADQUARTERS FIRST KENTUCKY BRIGADE,

SOMERSET, December 8, 1861

General GEORGE H. THOMAS, Commanding Eastern Division

 

GENERAL:  We met the enemy's scouts this evening about 3 miles to the west of the village; the collision took place between the Thirty-fifth Ohio and the enemy's cavalry.  Our loss was 1 killed and 1 wounded; the enemy's, 1 officer killed and 3 men wounded.  We captured 1 horse and killed 5.  The cavalry under my command, as usual, behaved badly.  They are a nuisance, and the sooner they are disbanded the better.  They are souring the country on their own account, lounging about <ar7_9> the villages and drinking establishments, a nuisance and disturbance to the quiet citizens of the country. Captain Everett has just joined me, and reports a series of irregularities by stragglers of this regiment as having passed under his notice in the several villages which he passed.

 

Is there no such thing as obtaining a regiment of reliable cavalry?  Such a regiment is indispensable with this brigade at this time.  The absence of such troops has kept me in the saddle until I am nearly worn down with fatigue.

 

I very much need a brigade commissary of subsistence, who could have the means to purchase such articles as it may become necessary to purchase.  The system of making purchases by regimental commissaries and giving promise to pay is open to abuse, and has become a great annoyance.

 

The Tennessee regiments will be here to-morrow.  I shall no doubt, need them by the time they arrive.

 

 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. SCHOEPT, Brigadier-General

 

P.S. I regret to add that Major Helveti, of the Kentucky Cavalry, and Captain Prime, Engineers, are both missing, and have been, I now learn, captured by the enemy.  These officers left camp with me on Wednesday on a reconnaissance, but taking a different road, fell into the hands of the enemy.  An earlier report would have been made of this, but I had looked for their return until after the departure of the Saturday's mail, my last reliable means of communicating with you.  I deem it useless now to send a dispatch by a cavalry express.

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No. 2- Report of Col. Ferdinand Van Derveer, Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry.

CAMP NEAR SOMERSET, KY., December 8, 1861

Brig. Gen. First Brigade Kentucky Volunteers

 

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that at 2 o'clock this afternoon rapid firing was heard from our advance picket, 30 strong, stationed on the Fishing Creek road, about 2 miles from our camp.

 

The battalion was immediately formed, and two companies went quickly to the relief of the picket.  The enemy had been checked and were scattered through the woods.

 

The picket was first alarmed by several of Captain Dillion's cavalry, who had been posted a few miles in advance, rushing past.  They could not be stopped, and in a few moments the whole company came rushing along, refusing to halt to assist our men, and so ran on to camp.  Had they rendered any assistance the enemy would have been routed with considerable loss.

 

Our picket, under the direction of Lieut. W. C. Dine, of Company D, being in an open field, formed and delivered three volleys, retreating while loading to the woods, which they reached, and then came on to camp in small parties.

 

We killed 1 of their officers in command of the advance, 1 of their horses, and captured 1 horse.  Our own loss was 1 killed, 1 wounded, and 15 missing. <ar7_10>

 

The force of the enemy appears to have been 150 cavalry, chiefly armed with sabers and pistols.

 

All of which is respectfully submitted,

FERDINAND VAN DERVEER, Colonel Commanding Thirty-fifth Regiment Ohio Volunteers

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No. 3-Reports of Brig. Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer, C. S. Army.

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS,

Mill Springs, Ky., December 2, 1861

Lieutenant-Colonel MACKALL, Assistant Adjutant General, Bowling Green, Ky.

 

SIR: Yesterday, with a small detachment of infantry and cavalry, I proceeded to reconnoiter from the left bank a camp of the enemy, 9 miles above, on the right bank of the river.  Many of their tents were in full view, and they came out and fired on us with small-arms and one 12-pounder howitzer.  We returned the fire, but the distance was too great for our guns to be of material service.  Today I took up four pieces of artillery and soon shelled them out of their encampment, causing them to strike tents precipitately and retire out of sight.  I doubt whether they have more than one regiment there.

 

Captain Sheliha, with a scouting party, has examined Creelsborough and Burkesville, lower down the river, and reports three regiments of the enemy at the former and a small force at the latter, both on the right bank.

 

One of our picket parties reports a small force also at Rowena, on the same side of the river.

 

The river is now very high.  I am now building transports to enable me to cross, but I fear there will be several days' delay.

 

Very respectfully,

F. K. ZOLLICOFFER, Brigadier-General: Commanding

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BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS,

Mill Springs, Ky., December 9, 1861

Lieutenant-Colonel MACKALL, Bowling Green, Ky.

 

SIR: Having been disappointed in having ferry-boats captured by the force sent on in advance with that object, I have had to have boats built, and have been much delayed in crossing the Cumberland River. Five regiments, seven cavalry companies, and four pieces of artillery are now across.  The position on both sides of the ferry is naturally strong, and I am rapidly strengthening the defenses on the right bank. The whole three with me is seven and one-half regiments, eighteen cavalry companies, and one 6-pounder battery of eight guns.

 

There is a force of the enemy at Columbia, the strength of which I am not able to ascertain.  Three regiments of it were at Creelsborough, 18 miles above Burkesville, ten days ago.  It is certain that there are now not less than five regiments at Somerset, possibly more.

 

On the 1st I reconnoitered from the left bank a camp of the enemy, a <ar7_11> part of which was in view on the right bank of the river at Waitsborough.  On the 2nd I took up four pieces of artillery and shelled them out, compelling them to move their encampment hurriedly.  They had but two pieces of artillery.  On the 4th I threw over the first small cavalry picket at this place.  They met a cavalry picket of the enemy a mile from the ferry and drove them back, capturing some trifling equipments.  The Seventeenth Ohio Regiment, with orders to prevent our crossing, had advanced to within 2 1/2 miles of the ferry.  It fled precipitately to the neighborhood of Somerset.

 

On the 5th our cavalry pickets captured Major Helveti (supposed to be of General Buell's staff), Captain Prime, engineer officer, under orders from General Buell, and a corporal of Colonel Haskins' regiment, after a chase of several miles, severely wounding the 2 officers.

 

Fishing Creek runs south into the Cumberland, 5 miles above here, and lies between our position and Somerset.  It is more than 30 miles long, runs in a deep ravine 200 to 300 feet deep, and its summit-level on the east ranges from a half mile to one and a half miles distant from that on the west.  There are two crossings from here to Somerset, 7 and 11 miles from here.  The more distant, the enemy fortified on the eastern bank, and they had a force near the latter crossing.  On the 7th our cavalry detachments crossed at both places, and found the enemy had fallen back to a camp 3 miles north of Somerset.  They rode through their fortifications and returned.  Yesterday our cavalry crossed at the upper ford and reconnoitered the enemy's camp and the town of Somerset.  In the fortifications at the creek they found an infantry picket and a cavalry picket in advance.  They were also fired on from the bushes this side of the creek.  They charged upon all they met, pursued the enemy 5 or 6 miles, killed 10, and captured 16, one of whom is badly wounded.  All are of the Thirty-fifth Ohio regiment, except one of Wolford's regiment.  There were 2 of our horses killed and 1 more wounded.  The prisoners say their regiment reached Somerset only the evening before, and they know but little of what regiments are there, except that four of them are from Ohio, the Thirty-fifth, Thirty-eighth, Seventeenth, and Thirty-first.  Haskins' Kentucky regiment is certainly there, perhaps others.  Our cavalry are today picketing both towards Harrison and Somerset.

 

Very respectfully,

F. K. Zollicoffer, Brigade-General

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BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS,

Beech Grove, Ky., North of the River opposite Mill Springs, December 14, 1861

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.

 

SIR: On the 2nd instant I informed you that I had, from south bank of the river, shelled the enemy out of their camp on the north bank, and was rapidly constructing boats at Mills Springs with which to cross the river.  On the 3rd I threw over a few a cavalry pickets, who drove back the enemy's pickets, found a mile from the ferry, capturing a pistol, a saddle, and some other trappings.  The Seventeenth Ohio Regiment, 2 1/2 miles distant, fled 12 miles.  On the 4th, our cavalry pickets captured, 6 miles north of the river, after a chase of more than a mile, Major Helveti, of the First Kentucky Cavalry, Captain Prime, of New York, engineer officer, of General Buell's staff, and a corporal of Colonel Haskins' Kentucky regiment.  The major and captain were <ar7_12> both severely wounded.  On the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th we were employed crossing, by aid of a few boats we had constructed (finding a strong position on the bend of the river on the north side, leaving two regiments, some cavalry, and two pieces of artillery on the south bank.  On the 5th we found that the enemy were entrenching a strong position on the east bank of Fishing Creek, 11 miles north of us.  The bed of the creek is a deep ravine, 200 to 300 feet deep, the summit-level on one side being distant from that on the other side from three quarters of a mile to one and a half miles.  They also had a force at a lower crossing, 7 miles from us.  Both crossings were on roads leading to Somerset.  On the 7th we found that they had fallen back from both positions, and learned that they were entrenching 2 miles beyond Somerset.  On the 8th our cavalry pushed across the creek at the upper crossing, met a cavalry and infantry picket at the fortifications, drove them to the enemy's camp near Somerset, killing 10 or 12 and capturing 17 prisoners, all of the Thirty-fifth Ohio Regiment, except 1 of the First Kentucky Cavalry.  Our loss, 1 man wounded and 2 horses killed.  Our party captured a number of muskets, pistols, accouterments, articles of wearing apparel, etc.

 

On the south side of the river I have had the ferries patrolled with cavalry from the forks of the Cumberland down to the Burkesville.  On the --our picket at Creelsborough was fired at across the river and by some men in a boat.  They killed 2 in the boat and lost a horse.  On the 9th and 10th the enemy on the north bank fired across the river at our cavalry patrolling Rowena, 30 miles below here.  I determined to punish them, and sent down an expedition on the north bank on the 11th, which dispersed the enemy, killing 3 capturing 11.  Our only loss was 1 man drowned in attempting to cross the river.  Last night a party of our cavalry, who had crossed the South Fork of the Cumberland, were fired on, losing 1 man killed and 1 wounded.  It being difficult to keep them here safely, I today sent 33 prisoners of war to Nashville, retaining 1 too badly wounded to move at present.  General Johnston has ordered a steamboat to Gainesborough on the 18th, loaded with supplies for this brigade, on which the prisoners will take passage.  This country is abundant in flour, pork, beef, and many other supplies.  There are from eight to ten regiments of the enemy at Somerset, five in Columbia.  I have four and a half regiments on this side entrenched--flanks and rear protected by the river--and two regiments on the south bank.  Major-General Crittenden has assumed command of this district, and is at Knoxville.

 

Very respectfully,

F. K. ZOLLICOFFER, Brigadier-General

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